Does Clay Detoxify?

I have been hearing about the great detox benefits of bathing in and ingesting Terramin. What’s your opinion?

– August 24, 2009

Terramin is a trade name for a type of clay (calcium montmorillonite) that is being promoted on the Internet as a dietary supplement. Products made from this clay are advertised for both internal and external uses. Many clay products on the market are intended for topical use to treat insect bites and stings and soothe itching. According to folk belief, clay draws toxins to the surface of the skin. Taken internally, Terramin is said to provide the body with needed minerals and to help remove internal toxins.

I think ingesting clay is probably harmless, but I doubt if it helps with detoxification. My own view is that the body does a pretty good job of cleansing and purifying itself if you stop putting toxins in and focus on good nutrition, regular exercise, and other healthy habits.

None of the many supplements and herbal products purported to detoxify the system and purify the blood are necessary to good health. Instead, you can help the body rid itself of unwanted materials by drinking more pure water to increase urinary output; taking steam baths or saunas, which can help eliminate toxins through sweating; eating plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains to ensure regular eliminations, and getting enough aerobic activity to stimulate breathing. Taking the herbal remedy milk thistle boosts liver metabolism, aiding its important role in detoxification.

Taking my daily antioxidant regimen, which includes vitamins C, E, mixed carotenes, and the mineral selenium, can help maintain your body’s natural defenses.

In addition to milk thistle for the liver, you might try other herbs that help the body protect itself from common toxins. Some of the best-researched are extracts of green tea, ginger, and turmeric.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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